"Feeling glad more often and more consistently is available for everyone in any circumstance."
Though bestselling author and artist, SARK has empowered millions to live their creative dreams and manage their businesses, in this volume she journeys through personal layers of grief and loss to herself emerge stronger and more whole. The profound insights she discovers along the way offer practical strategies we can all use to cultivate positive transformation through, rather than despite, life’s inevitable travails.
"This is not a book about feeling glad when you don’t. How annoying! This is a book about finding and living from the glad parts in all your feelings."
“Practical gladness” for SARK is about recognizing that we can be sad/glad/mad and more all at once. Many people don’t even know this is possible. That’s because most of us were not taught how to hold or navigate multiple feelings.
As we learn to occupy our sadness and other feelings in new ways, we can shorten the length of time we “need” to experience them. Yes, we will still feel the challenging aspects. The difference is that we won’t spend as much time and energy there as we practice the muscles of perspective-shifting, willingness, flexibility and truth-telling.
Yes to All the Changes
"Without exception, every loss or change in my life has always resulted in something good or better!"
That said, we first need to realize it’s as important to embrace the “not glad” places as it is to be glad. Society puts a lot of positive attention on feeling good, happy, centered and joyful. The thing is, these great feelings don’t and cannot last. When we repress, deny, avoid and conjure stories to cover up uncomfortable feelings, they have no “choice” but to grow louder through unhappiness, hopelessness, crabbiness and negative self-talk.
Instead, we need to accept that we’ll all encounter highs and lows. Finding gifts in every situation does not mean disregarding pain, sorrow or suffering. To get more accustomed to ranges of feelings, here are several re-framing ideas:
- Even 1-5 seconds of acknowledging a “not glad” feeling will shift this energy.
- Start noticing and speaking your feelings differently. Imagine a good friend changing a plan. Rather than getting stuck in anger or frustration, your response is: “Of course I understand! I feel disappointed that I won’t see you, but I also feel glad to have some extra time for myself.”
- For those who like writing, try “3-Part Harmony”. Part 1 is Mad Pages, where you record current challenging feelings. Part 2 is Wise Pages, where your kind inner voice replies with reassuring, comforting and supportive comments to everything you’ve written. In Part 3, the Glad Pages, you list everything you’re grateful for (including things in the process of transforming). This is also an exercise in weaving together multiple feelings simultaneously.
- Did you know most growth takes place in darkness? As the “pieces” of our lives fall apart, new ones materialize and old ones can then be discarded or reshaped.
Telling and Living New Stories
"Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because, what the world needs is people who have come alive."
Grief, loss and change (naturally) can result in our living in old stories that we then repeat to understand the pain. The issue is, we sometimes get trapped there – like ruts in a road. Each time we re-tell the old story, those feelings are reawakened. We then tend to conclude that we’re still “there”. To clear the way for new stories, here are some techniques:
- If there are lingering stories you tell with yourself as a victim, take them apart until you can express the narrative in a completely neutral way with no “charge” against something or someone else.
- Suffering comes from comparing how it was to how it is now. To break free from the “polarized spell” where everything is extreme, either/or, good/bad, idealized or demonized, do understand that there is a middle ground. It consists of a much wider, more forgiving perspective. Practice with living in this place.
- Be on the lookout for words that signify extremes – never, always, worst and best. For example, when we make others into monsters because they did something “wrong” to us, we freeze them there. That merely keeps the pain intact.
- The opposite of loss is not gain…it is found. Dreams do not get “lost”. They will wait and are very resilient. Every experience we go through is useful. Nothing is ever lost, wasted or broken in the process of living our lives.
- In your own way, you are a transformational change agent. Tell those stories!
Especially with the latter call to action in mind, it’s no wonder speaker and author, Cheri Huber, states in her testimonial for this inspiring work: “SARK is one of the truly authentic voices in the world of personal transformation. There are no theories here. This book will take you on a journey straight to the heart, holding your hand every step of the way, and you will know you can relax completely in the care of a compassionate and wise guide. The whole world ought to read this book.” Well said!